The Weinstein Co. generated headlines when it shook up the Hollywood distribution model by opting to release the indie comedy “One Chance” for free on Yahoo more than a week before it hits theaters.
The bold move is getting a frosty reception from the exhibition industry’s main lobbying arm
National Association of Theatre Owners Spokesman Patrick Corcoran said he expects some theaters will refuse to play “One Chance” and noted that his members prefer to screen movies that adhere to a 90-day window before being released on home entertainment.
“A strong window serves both ends of the market,” Corcoran said. “If a movie performs well theatrically, it will perform well on home video.”
A spokesperson for the Weinstein Co. declined to comment.
Corcoran said he expects that the film will hit a ceiling of 350 theaters, roughly the same number that showed “Snowpiercer,” a Radius-TWC picture that was released on VOD just three weeks after it opened in theaters.
“They’re not getting new customers, they’re shifting revenue,” said Corcoran. “The distributors like it to the extent that they get a higher percentage [of the profits] from VOD than from movie theaters. But if they released it theatrically and then went on to VOD and other ancillaries, they’d see more money.”
Theater owners and distributors typically split a film’s profits in half, at least in the United States. It’s hard to gauge the breakdown on a VOD release, but there has been speculation that it ranges from between 60% to 80% in favor of the studio.
“One Chance” will employ a different method, however. It is being licensed by Yahoo and will be available to customers for free.
The Weinstein Co.’s recent experience with multi-platform releasing has been fruitful. “Snowpiercer” has earned $2 million in its first week on demand and is expected to bypass “The Bachelorette’s” $8 million gross, a record for the company.
The Weinstein Company has yet to announce when it will premiere “One Chance,” the story of a “Britain’s Got Talent” winner, in theaters, though it is expected to be released in September or October, sources say.
“What you see is that when they don’t have the budget for marketing or faith in a movie, they try to borrow as much publicity as they can from having a theatrical release in order to support the video release,” said Corcoran.
The NATO spokesman said the studio did not reach out to the organization before deciding to release the film on Yahoo, but said the group would not take a public position on whether or not the film should be shown.
“We do not advise our members on booking or buying a film,” Corcoran said.